Sunday, 11 September 2011

Moseley Folk

Now another wonderful Birmingham cultural highlight, Moseley Folk is admittedly for those who can afford festivals, but a really special and relaxing weekend in the park, with excellent bands (and a broad church definition of folk) and a laid-back atmosphere to savour.
Moseley Folk website for more info.

Arts Fest 2011

Now a regular and highly popular event - or collection of simultaneous events at locations across the centre of Birmingham (and the Midlands Arts Centre) - ArtsFest is a real encouragement as Autumn takes hold and the economy seems full of bad news, arrogant bankers and useless and arrogant government.
Here's a taster in photographs:

Monday, 22 August 2011

On a visit

 On a visit to Compton Verney, near Stratford, for exhibitions on Stanley Spencer (garden paintings) and Capability Brown (garden designs).  Stanley S. impressed the most, but the strange display in the grounds was certainly unusual ... :) (Anyone remember the cult TV series "The Village" ?!).  Website for more...

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Hungarian Photographers

Eyewitness: Hungarian photography in the 20th Century.
Royal Academy Exhibitions page

Haunting images of earlier lifestyles in the countryside, pictures of war by Robert Capa, photo-realism during the restrictions of the Communist era.
Shows the power of black-and-white images, we came out of this feeling a strong impression had been made on us.

I hope the current Hungarian government, who sponsored the exhibition, can be prevented from continuing to restrict liberties in the way that recent reports suggest they have been doing (eg: Amnesty International (UK) pages ).

Other World in the Library

The British Library has a display of science fiction and similar works through the ages - see BL What's on page - Out of this World. Intriguing to see how writers have imagined the future: utopia, dystopia, our problems solved or apocalypse now.
Free too, so go along and see it!

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Saturday, 30 July 2011

On being international?

A day of folk from home and away (not the TV series).
Today I've been out to Warwick or their annual folk festival and hear folk from Northumberland to Ireland to Turkish influences on a young (and really excellent) duo on claw hammer banjo and harmonica(s).
This evening I was one of an audience in the MAC's outdoor arena, refreshingly unrefurbished from the old semi- in the round concrete of amphitheatre, stage and dance floor, so less corporate and open for the various dances of the Cajun band from Louisiana, the Savoy (pronounced Ça voit) Family Band. Mother leading on guitar, with intros on the background of the Creole (Afro-American) French and Cajun French of the songs. Father, expert on accordion and humour, and the two sons on fiddle and keyboards.
Altogether a super atmosphere and lots of couples dancing (the oldest couple leading the way).
I felt in some way taken into the wooden houses of Louisiana, the varieties of language, the physical closeness to but remoteness culturally from Texas, the heat and humidity.
In my home town and a place that's almost been a second home, I was taken around the world.
Home maybe is where you can be yourself, and part of self is sharing the worldwide, the international, the multiple cultures which make up cities and nations today, enjoying some openness and not feeling threatened.
We need a home, but we need to feel that the world is home.

Location:Home is

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Barcelona time

Well, The city of Gaudí, Picasso (early years anyway), Miró, has to have more than a little going for it.
Add in sunshine, cacti, parrots, greenery and hillsides that semi-circle the Catalonian capital (be careful to remember that this isn't just in Spain, no more than Scotland is in the UK (or heaven forbid, England!;)).
The language looks intriguing, with it's "amb" for "with" and unexpected x-s, part way between French and Spanish but not either, so definitely its own.
We've had lovely wine and tapas in the Poble d'Espanyol in Montjuïc, likewise tapas near the Paralel metro station, and tonight at Aribau on Carrer de la Diputació near the main university square.
Alt Heidelberg near Universitat was a bit disappointing, despite the old furniture and promise of German beers.
The café Font de Gat near some of the Montjuïc museums has a delightful location in a courtyard above and below the verdant beauty of said hillsides.
More to come and pictures too!
Museums: Miró foundation, Perfume Museum, Archaeological Museum, Francisco Godia, Picasso Museum (devoted to his earlier years and development, showing his impressive grasp of technique and awareness of the tradition of the Old Masters. Gaudí's house in the rather wonderful curios of the Park Güell (Gaudí's patron), another source of leaves and shade above the sun-beaten metropolis. Botanical Gardens near the huge national art museum.


Monday, 20 June 2011

Beautiful places near home

This is Woodbrooke Quaker College, 20 minutes from the centre of Birmingham. Beautiful, tranquil gardens and a real haven from the bustle of the main road just outside.

See their website - - for details of the College and the weekend and other courses run there.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Pride in Birmingham

For some more photos, see AmnestyBrum's flickr stream - this year we supported activists from the Baltic countries who stage their Pride festival, for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their friends. 
This time, the Amnesty group had a float (ie lorry) to stage their Birmingham/Baltic Pride to support the visitors and their friends back home.  Baltic Pride is in Estonia this year, but due to local difficulties a march isn't planned.  (To see the local reactions to similar events in those countries, try YouTube and "Baltic Pride" and maybe "Riga 2006" to show just how hostile the anti-lobby can be.  A shame, they lose an enriching experience themselves (the antis) and make life colder and crueller for others - in what are beautiful countries with a rich heritage.)

We are lucky to have a great celebratory event in Birmingham, which all can take part in without threat, and where friends and well-wishers can play an equal part.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Espana en Birmingham

Spanish protestors out in Brum city centre today.  Spanish Grand Prix in the background.  See an article in El Pais about the bigger protests in Madrid as elections are held in Spain amidst anger at high unemployment and government austerity policies ... (sounds familiar?)

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Concert and more

Symphony Hall 14th May: CBSO.

Shostakovich's 10th Symphony in the second half: stern, dramatic and a little distant emotionally after the orchestral tour de force of the first half with Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto, sometimes described as an old war-horse but tonight fresh as ever with a subtle touch on the piano and beautiful moments from the orchestra.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Refugee rights (and legal prejudice)

Read this display board from the British Library's current exhibition on the Census: plus ça change ...

( for exhibition details).

Back from the Big City

A weekend in London's always an experience, but sometimes it gets too much. So we came back on an earliesh train today, and one of us is resting while the other one's typing this post. Meanwhile, here's a photo from a previous trip. You might recognise the skyline.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Roar ...

Beneath the surface

Seen in Oxford's River Cherwell ...

Off the beaten Oxford track

Discovering some delights of Oxford after visiting a friend.

In the University Parks area near the University and Pitt Rivers Museum.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Saturday, 26 March 2011

March for the Alternative!

I'm not there (too slow to book, or too cowardly), but there's the big event in London today.
This is a protest against the massive cuts to public services, while businesses have allegedly huge tax dues unpaid or 'dodged' and bankers still award themselves massive bonuses.
See the TUC webpage  and write to your MP if you're concerned about cuts (I think we all should be).
#26march on twitter.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Never go back

Is it waiting
Is it?
A feeling
The echo at first
In the bricks of a building
That stayed since I lived here -
Or rather
The street name
In faded gilt letters
Victorian splendour -
But the buses are new
And the arts centre café's a must-have-been-refurb'd
And the films at the cinema
The same ones aren't on again (no, there's no retro this month)...
So the echos are quiet and the feelings are too far to feel -
Only names:
Oxford Road
Whitworth street
Manchester Piccadilly ...
There's no need, no time, to go back to where I worked
Where I slept
Where I drank
Where I spent eighteen months -
Or to the band in the Free Trade Hall
Bhundu boys
Fresh from Zimbabwe
The gig-goers dancing -
Since then half the band's died of AIDS I heard -
And the Hall's now the smart hotel where I just stayed.

The feelings from back then can stay in the past,
Bricked in
Or hollowed for better developments:
They can sleep.
I'd rather be now,
Even if streets both the old and the new build are part of me.
Let the past be,
The rest grow for all of us
Peopled by those who remember the names

And by those barely born when the memories were made.



The echo a street in the semi-dark
And somewhere a feeling
From then -
But it's not for today.

Only names, and the names
Are beyond days:
Today, they are only themselves.

[Copyright Jon Andrews 2011)

Room at the top (almost)

From a high-rise bar in central Manchester -

Monday, 14 March 2011

Stairway to heaven?

Canalside Brum as it's built

Down by the Liffey


And a view from the hotel

Pub Scenes Dubh Linn

John F Kennedy and others
Pub Character :-)


View from the street